Women in the field of engineering have always been in the minority. Even at schools with the highest female enrollment rates, numbers rarely exceed 30%. And in the workplace, female engineers are vastly outnumbered as well.
“The ranks of women engineers have grown from less than 2% of all engineers in the United States in 1978 to 9% of engineers today,” states a recent National Research Council study, Women Scientists and Engineers Employed in Industry: Why So Few? According to the study, working conditions for women in industry are perceived as being less favorable, thus resulting in fewer women in the field.
For women to make their way in the field, the key is to seek mentorship and support. Check out IEEE Women in Engineering (www.ieee.org/web/membership/women/index.html) or Society of Women Engineers (http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org).
Engineering is a broad field that has enough work for all types of people. Here are a few examples of successful female engineers from Engineer Girl (www.engineergirl.com):
- Ada Byron Lovelace helped invent a machine that would eventually lead to the modern computer. She also predicted the development of software and artificial intelligence years before they actually became reality. She even has a computer programming language named after her.
- Grace Murray Hopper created the first computer compiler that allows programmers today to write their programs using English rather than machine language, making their jobs much easier.
- Elsa Garmire advanced optical technology, making the commercial use of lasers possible. Thank her the next time you use a CD player or print something using a laser printer.
- Stephanie Kwolek discovered a solvent that later became used in the production of Kevlar, the key component of bulletproof vests.
- Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper that is widely used in cars today.
Read more about women in engineering at www.GraduatingEngineer.com.